About Time


I can remember one day – I was passing by this old dude.  He asked me to go to the store for him.   He told me he’d give me a couple of dollars.  I hollered back, “Nah, man.  I gotta be somewhere.  I don’t have time.”  I didn’t even look at him. I only slightly shifted my head to acknowledge him.

“Time?! ”
“Time?  What do you know about time, youngblood?!”  He shouted.

“Where are you running off to? Where do you need to be?” I slowed and turned.

Before I could say anything he slipped into his rant, like a familiar pair of shoes. “Come on over here, youngblood!  Lemme cast a spell on your illiterate spirit.”  Exhaling clouds of smoke ghosting the oxygen in his lungs, he pointed to the passersby.  “Look at that woman down in her phone. Look at that guy sitting in his car staring up at the back of his head. That kid talking on the phone! Dead, all dead… Illiterate spirits.”

There’s something in the way of things.

“You all make plans, spinning webs for future use.  The fragility and thus preciousness of your own life undervalued.  Hastily scribbling down journal entries on your bucket list: ‘I wanna go here and do this before I die.’  Assuming you have more time coming than just the next five minutes staring you in your face.”

He paused – eyes scanning me, darting and rolling in the sockets – reassessing me while I stood in confusion.

“Ha!  You talk like, smell like, smile like, think like you are gonna live forever!  If I hadn’t stopped you, you would’ve missed this moment.   For all you know I could be your last five, dirty old, smoke cloud me.”  His lips curled into a grin.  “I know what you think of me.” Fumes escaping, racing between yellowing teeth, he wore a greasy shirt, unshaven with a curled beard.  “You, like all of these people, are ghost walking your way through life.  Hurrying and scurrying to your next minute. No time. No chops to properly chew and digest the current moment.  Already thinking about the next bite!” Gesturing with his arms high – heavily animated.  “This moment.  This moment, right here, has been normalized, uncommitted to, and pressed into background noise.”

There’s something in the way of things.

Pushing smoke like a dragon from his lungs.  He used every available breath to take a pull and then another pull of the toxins; the glowing crease moved toward his fingers. “Youngblood, your time has already been committed to paper.  Your history already written. Your decisions already made.  You see your job is to catch up to it – to experience it, taste it.”  His eyes darted toward the cigarette, focusing on it. “Understand it.”  He pointed at me with two fingers.  “Understand you.”

Tossing out the spent cigarette, he shifted the weight of a brown paper bag he held in his hand. He looked back and forth between my eyes, as if he was waiting – waiting for some reaction.

“Ha! There it is.”  He laughed.  The laughter morphed into a hackneyed coughing fit. Despite the spasms, his face wouldn’t let go of that knowing smile.  “I see it in your eyes now – the catalyzing chemicals. You’re starting to get it, to wake up. The dumb rust, falling off your brain.”  He reached out with his callused hand and unkept nails. “There is always time to be in the moment…” His eyes widened. “To live!”

There’s something in the way of things.

Upon returning from the store, he said. “About time. It’s about time you caught on youngblood.” A fresh stick of cigarette smoke draped his eyes.

I handed him the bag. He began to dig around in his pocket. I gestured. “No need old dude. This one is on me.” My head exploded with questions.

From across the street, I heard a woman shout. “I told you to let go of my hand!”  I turned to see if the situation was at a safe distance.   Bringing my attention back to the old man, his face never came into view.  The thick curls of cigarette smoke still hung in the air, swirling their way upward, where he stood only moments ago.  I looked up the street.  I looked down the street.  Nothing. Nowhere.

As I began to walk away, I heard the words, “LIVE”, whispered on the air. “Don’t let life pass you by.”

There’s something in the way of things.
Something in the knowing and not knowing of the future.
Something in the present.
Something in the sensation and knowledge of the moment.
Most of us, all of us, letting it all just pass us by.
There’s something in the way of things.

By malakhai jonezs
(C) Copyright 2016

Inspired by the Roots and Amiri Baraka collaboration, “Something in the Way of Things.”

img src: http://slickzine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/waiting-for-a-chance1.jpg


  1. Much enjoyed this ‘experiencing the unknown of the present’ >-I

    PS: at first glance (from the homepage), I thought the pic were of the good ol’ Morgan {Freeman] 🙂

  2. You did the word-magic, M. Your descriptions brought the old man to life in my mind, and the puzzled younger dude too. I “saw” them on the street, the world rushing by, the cigarette smoke, the old man’s knowing smile. And your message came through without being all preachy-fied : live in the moment. Good work!

  3. Live in the moment. Excellent advice, harder and harder to do as we get older and the future is shaped by more than just ourselves. So many responsibilities and it gets hard to remember that we still have a responsibility to ourselves too.
    I love the way you show a scene. The cigarette smoke almost gave me an asthma attack. 😉

      1. Haaaa! Lol! No worries on the name combination. That’s WLP for the compliment! I truly appreciate it! 🙂 I hope everything is going well over in your corner of the world.

  4. “This moment, right here, has been normalized, uncommitted to, and pressed into background noise.” Wow, this piece has so much depth – it’s just what I needed, thank you! And thank you for sharing the song, a wonderful collaboration, listening to it right now.

    I also wanted to tell you I nominated you for the Unique Blogger Award 🙂 You can read the guidelines here: https://riotsbyfreedomwriter.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/unique-blogger-award/. I hope you’ll be able to participate!

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